Solomon Warriors playing for more than club pride
After a year of financial problems in Solomon Islands football, the country's domestic winners, Solomon Warriors, are hoping to provide some good news in the Oceania Champions League.
The Solomon Warriors are hoping a strong showing at next month's Oceania Champions League will provide a welcome boost for football in the country after a difficult 12 months.
An interim committee has been running the Solomon Islands Football Federation since October, after the old administration failed to manage a funding shortfall.
That's led to significant cutbacks in the national programme and the Solomon Warriors team manager, Dr Kenton Sade, told Vinnie Wylie the O-League is a chance for some good news.
DR KENTON SADE: It has affected a lot of football aspects in Solomon Islands given the issues surrounding our football, but for us the important thing is we keep the football alive while the other issues needed time to be sorted out and leave it to the respective team that they have put in place to try and at least reorganise the house and make sure that the football is going to a level that we can be able to be seen as one of the first tier playing nations in the region.
VINNIE WYLIE: And I guess with a lot of the national teams, in terms of age grade sides, not being able to compete in certain Oceania competitions and really having to prioritise what events are important, having a lot of your national players involved in this team in this OFC competition next month is a chance for them to play at a top level and do well.
KS: That's right, I think with this issue that's affected our development we have a lot of young players whom are good enough to be in any youth team and I think we believe as a club that that is the basis of where we can build our players from. But in terms of our players getting into the senior team, that sort of competition is something that can develop confidence in any player who is able to be amongst the best players in the nation representing their country.
VW: [You were] the last team to confirm their spot in the O-League and it's not far away. Do you feel like that's a good thing that you can sort of just continue on effectively from your national league performance when you head to Fiji?
KS: Yes, we had a week's break and we have just arrived back from a one week tour in Vanuatu in which we played three games in five days against the two representative teams of Vanuatu, which is Amicale FC and Tafea FC. Of the three games that we played last week we won one [and] lost two but I think it was a very good indication of where we are with other champion teams of other countries who will be participating in the OFC Champions League as well.
VW: This will be the second time for Solomon Warriors competing in the Champions League after last season - what did you learn from that experience?
KS: OFC Champions League is a different level of football. The level of football in Solomon Islands I think given a few more years in the National Soccer League scene and if we can improve on the local club structures I think then we could get to a level where we could safely say that we could compete very strongly in the Champions League. But what we have so far in this current season, is we need a lot of work on some of the areas but in terms of technical skills wise we can match anyone but in terms of size we need a lot of work on that and a lot of strength as well.
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